You Can Do It — Surprising Benefits of Reading Aloud

It’s “You Can Do It Wednesday,” and today we are focusing on early elementary aged kids, but this tip is actually great for the whole family.

An important part of child development, especially in the elementary years, involves learning new concepts. Through discussion of the story, young listeners begin to understand plot concepts. The inflection in the reader’s voice and emphasis on certain words and phrases helps clarify meaning in ways they could miss just reading on their own.

A friend of ours who teaches middle school English noticed that a large percentage of her students were not yet able to have a vicarious reading experience. In other words, they were not able to see that “movie in their mind” that most of us get when we read. This can make reading a difficult and boring task.

But we have found that daily out loud reading from a young age can help kids develop that skill earlier.

Got a wiggly kid who struggles to sit through a chapter book as you read? Grab some blank paper and colorful markers, and let them draw while they listen. When their right brain is occupied with drawing, their left brain is free to listen.

Don’t worry if they are not following along at first. Just stop often and talk about what is happening. It takes time to be able to listen and comprehend. So be willing to catch them up and offer frequent little plot developments. In time, they will be on the edge of their seat, waiting to hear what will happen next.

Out loud reading is not just helpful for your young elementary student, it’s good for you too! Research has shown that reading aloud is chock full of benefits for the young and old. Want to birth new brain cells? There are a variety of ways to do that, such as learning a new language and learning to play an instrument. Reading aloud is another way to stimulate brain cell production.

There are many other things that out loud reading does to benefit our brains. Here are a few of the big ones:

  • Helps gain greater comprehension
  • Sharpens focus
  • Increases vocabulary
  • Challenges use of intonation
  • Improves listening and reading skills

Got any kids who struggle with dyslexia? Out loud reading can help! Here’s an article that explains why.

So, grab a cup of tea, gather your kiddos of all ages (and especially those early elementary kids) and enjoy some family reading time. In the process, you are birthing brain cells and your bambinos are reaping some great benefits of their own.

read aloud book

A great book to check out on this topic is the Read-Aloud Handbook, by Jim Trelease, also known to some as the “Read Aloud Bible.” It’s full of great tips and information. Happy Reading!

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody are Christian, homeschooling moms with ten kids between them (ages 1 to 30), including one on the autism spectrum, plus one baby grandchild. Together they host a weekly syndicated parenting radio show, write a weekly newspaper column, freelance for a variety of publications, teach parenting and homeschooling workshops and seminars, speak at conventions and conferences and coach individual families. They are passionate about encouraging and equipping families to Parent On Purpose (POP) with the end result in mind.

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Explain – Show – Practice

Sitting at the supper table as a middle schooler, I wanted the butter which was on the other side of the table. I started to reach for it when a booming voice said, “Sit down. Keep your buns on your chair.”

Okay, but what then? I was seriously frozen; I was clueless how to get the butter without lifting myself off my chair.

As the parent of small children, I would often tell my children not to do this or that. At times I could see a confused look on their face that brought back this memory from my childhood. I realized I was not helping them by just telling them what not to do; I needed to help them by telling them what to do.

That realization only complicated matters for me, because at times I didn’t know what I wanted my child to do or what was the “right” thing to do, I just knew I didn’t want them to do what they were doing.

While taking the time to think through situations we didn’t like and actually pondering what would be a better way for our child to act, my husband and I began to see a pattern developing.

First, we noticed the need to identify the character trait lacking in any situation. Again, this required not just labeling but understanding what we meant and expected when we declared a character trait.

Kim Doebler

Kim lives in the North Woods of WI with her husband of twenty-nine years, Todd. They are blessed with four children ages fifteen to twenty. They made their move to the country from big city living nine years ago. Kim keeps active teaching beginning public speaking, homeschooling, and speaking on Training Children in Character. She also loves entertaining, reading and going for walks.

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Creative Is the New Intelligent

Creativity and imagination are the keys to the future. They will solve our energy crisis. They will continue to make our lives and work more powerful. If you had told me when I was a kid that I could stand on a street corner and talk on a phone to someone on the opposite side of the planet, I would have thought you were crazy.

Ever watch the Jetsons cartoon? I don’t know about you, but I didn’t expect to see their technology in my lifetime. I still doubt that I will ever replace my car with a flying mobile, but the Jetsonian flatscreen TVs are a part of our every day life. Video chat is also here. And although we don’t have personal robot maids who are part of the family, Honda’s Asimo robot can walk, talk and have basic human interactions. It will probably be a another lifetime before we can shrink our vehicles to a brief size as George Jetson could, but nanotechnology is a fast growing field that will surely make new and amazing things possible in years to come.

It is all the product of imagination and creativity, but he question for parents is this: “How do we help foster this in our kids?”

We would say that it starts with boredom. Author Nancy H. Blakely, said it much better than we could:

“Preempt the time spent on television and organized activities and have them spend it instead on claiming their imaginations. For in the end, that is all we have. If a thing cannot be imagined first — a cake, a relationship, a cure for AIDS — it cannot be. Life is bound by what we can envision.

I cannot plant imagination into my children. I can, however, provide an environment where their creativity is not just another mess to clean up but welcome evidence of grappling successfully with boredom. It is possible for boredom to deliver us to our best selves, the ones that long for risk and illumination and unspeakable beauty.

If we sit still long enough, we may hear the call behind boredom. With practice, we may have the imagination to rise up from the emptiness and answer.”

– Nancy H. Blakey, author of a number of books, including Mudpies: Recipes for Invention;101 Alternatives to Television; Lotions, Potions and Slime; and Boredom Busters, all from Tricycle Press

Parents can certainly turn off the TV or limit time on social media and video games. We can create open space (physically and mentally) for our kids to wander through, but once we establish an atmosphere of boredom, we also have to provide the resources and the encouragement for kids to explore and create.

Here are a handful of posts to give you some ideas. Click through, and try a few new things to cultivate imagination in your home.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Growing Leaders From Monday to Friday

When it comes to raising our kids, we want practical tools — stuff that we can actually put on our to do list. But we don’t just want busy work. We want realistic strategies that get results.

Grooming our kids to be leaders is high on our list (Jody and I, that is), but we were surprised to find out that it wasn’t for a lot of other parents. When we first started our radio show, our tagline was “Raising Leaders from Cradle to College and Parenting With the End Result in Mind.” But after about a year, we changed it because we found out that so many parents don’t think of their kids as leaders or even as potential leaders. We heard things like, “Oh my son isn’t really cut out for leadership. He’s not going into politics or anything. He won’t be a CEO.”

Running for office and running a company are definitely leadership roles, but so is being a foreman on a construction crew or the board member of a homeowner’s association or even a dad (he’s the leader of a household). Okay, so maybe kids can’t relate to those kind of leadership roles yet, but what about running a successful YouTube channel or being a popular Viner? Most middle and high schoolers can totally connect with that, but they may not see them as leadership roles. Young people like NigaHiga, Tobuscus, Alx James and Nash Grier are shaping the culture from the camera lens of their iPhones. They are leaders because they influencers.

But when we hear people talk about leadership development, especially when it’s geared toward kids, most of what we find is rhetoric — theory. We hear words like “Explore. Create. Connect. Inspire.” What does that look like in real life?

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Suggested Reading For Kids of Every Age

This week we have been talking about the great benefits of reading aloud to our kiddos. If you missed any of these posts, head back to Day 1 and scroll to the bottom for a complete list! To wrap it up, I thought you might want some ideas to jumpstart your read aloud library.

What to Read?

Regardless of their age, look for great stories. Look for stories that are as enjoyable to you as they are to your kids.

E.B. White, the author of Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little and The Trumpet of the Swan said, “Anyone who writes down to children is simply wasting his time. You have to write up, not down. Children are demanding. They are the most attentive, curious, eager, observant, sensitive, quick, and generally congenial readers on earth…Children are game for anything. I throw them hard words and they backhand them across the net.”

That being said, keep the bar high. Choose books with rich vocabulary and descriptions that paint a vivid picture. It takes time for kids to see that “movie” in their mind as they listen or read a story, but the better the story, the more likely that skill will come.

Got wiggly kids? Grab some blank paper and markers, and let them draw as you read. The drawing will occupy their right brain and free up the left brain to listen to the story.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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When Should You Start and Stop Reading to Your Kids?

When Should We Start Reading to Our Kids?

Some would say we should start reading to our babies as soon as they’re born, but I think we should start even before that. A study was done at the University of North Carolina in which 33 pregnant women were given a passage from a children’s story to read to their unborn babies. They were asked to read it three times a day for the last six weeks of pregnancy. Fifty-two hours postpartum, the babies were each given a nipple to suck as they listened through headphones to a woman’s voice (not their mom) reading three different passages. The researchers measured the babies’ sucking rates and found that the babies showed a preference for the passages that their moms had read during pregnancy.

When Should We Stop Reading to Our Kids?

Remember the recommendation from the U.S. Department of Education Commission on Reading that we talked about yesterday? If you didn’t get a chance to read it click here. They said reading aloud to children “should continue throughout the grades.”

Reading to my teens has been one of the most bonding and rewarding times for us. It’s a time for deep diving when we talk about what makes people tick and what we hold as the core values that drive our decisions.

Tom Sawyer’s brilliant (albeit mischievous) ploy to manipulate his peers into paying him for the “opportunity” to whitewash his aunt’s fence sparked a great discussion with my kids. We talked about Tom’s genius and his ability to manipulate people and situations and how he had a choice to use those gifts for good or for bad. We talked about how Tom Sawyer could have been a great entrepreneur, and we contemplated what causes a person to choose well or not choose well.

When we read The Giver, we talked about the pros and cons of socialism and how this conversation is extremely relevant to changes in our own society. We talked about aspects of their society that we admired and aspects that seemed oppressive.

In the teen years, when so many things are competing for our kids’ attention, reading aloud can offer intimate moments with them that we might not otherwise find.

 

Check back on Friday. We are going to offer suggested reading titles for kids of all ages. In the meantime, leave a comment below telling us some of your favorite read aloud selections.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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A Key Predictor of Academic Success

Vocabulary is an important part of reading success. Kids have a much easier time decoding words that they recognize and understand.  But vocabulary isn’t only critical for reading, it’s important to learning as a whole. According to readaloud.org, “The number of words that a child knows on entering kindergarten is a key predictor of his or her future success.”

This week we are talking about reading aloud to our kids. If you missed yesterday’s post, take a look.

Out loud reading is crucial to vocabulary development because it exposes kids to a higher volume of words and to words that you don’t normally use in everyday conversation. In his bestselling book The Read Aloud Handbook, author Jim Trelease explains that most people use about 5,000 words in regular conversation. These make up a person’s Basic Lexicon. People also pull from additional bank of about 5,000 less often used words, and together, these 10,000 words make up a person’s Common Lexicon.

read aloud book

But the true test of the strength of a person’s vocabulary lies in their ability to understand and use a smaller group called the “rare words.” So how do we expose kids to these rare words if they’re not a part of our daily conversation? By reading to them.

And as it turns out, words have a huge impact on learning.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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The Big Payoff of Reading Aloud to Kids

Out of all the different ways that we can help our kids succeed in school, the number one thing that parents can do requires nothing more than a free library card and time. We can read to them.

In 1983, the U.S. Department of Education was concerned about low academic performance scores, so they funded a Commission on Reading who spent two years combing through thousands of research reports conducted over the previous twenty-five years, and in 1985 they published their findings in a report titled Becoming a Nation of Readers. Amidst all of their digging, they discovered that reading out loud to kids is the number one most important thing we can do to help our kids become successful learners.

“The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children,” the report said. “It is a practice that should continue throughout the grades.”

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Aim Kids For Success With Project Management Skills

The corporate and the academic worlds are moving toward a more project-based environment. So as our kids grow up, they’re going to need strong project management skills, and we can begin teaching them some of the basics by showing them how to look at their to do list to find mini projects: papers for school, putting together a vendor booth for their small business, planning a birthday party.

What Has to Be Done?

  • Teach kids to ask, “What exactly needs to be done?”
  • They should be clear and concise because being vague clouds vision.
  • Then they should define any related goals and be specific.

My fifteen year old has a successful henna tattoo business, and she gets a good amount of business from booths at various fairs and events around town. For these booths, she has to have a table with good signage. She needs pictures of her work, brochures, business cards and pricing information. Her goal is obviously to do tattoos at the event and make money, but it’s also to network for future business. That means she has to provide information on these wedding venues greenville sc, pregnancy belly tattoos and home parties (which tend to bring in good money). Her goal is to leave an event with at least three bookings — one to replace that day’s event and two to grow her business.

When our kids are defining their goals and tasks, they need to think about what they want the end result to look like.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Why is Art Important?

Isn’t art just something fun that we let our kids do to keep themselves busy and ward off the dreaded boredom?

Not so much.

Life Lesson: It’s Okay to Make Mistakes

In my own life I have struggled with allowing myself to make mistakes. Often times, I was afraid to begin a DIY project for fear I would mess it up. I could feel the struggle inside. “Just go ahead and try your idea – Oh, you’d better not, you’ll mess the whole thing up and waste all your time and materials.”

But my daughter, on the other hand, has no problem trying something new, mainly because of her art training. During high school she attended a local visual and performing arts program. One day, she came home and told me how her beautiful 3D creation had plummeted to the floor. Her instructor demanded that she, “make it work.” He told her that mistakes and accidents happened to make art more interesting and it could very well be the best 3D art she’d ever create. Well, as it ended up, her project turned out amazing. He was right!

That experience taught her that it’s okay to step out and make mistakes (and not just in art). She also learned that there’s more than one answer to every problem. And to be honest, I learned through her lesson too.

Jody Hagaman

Jody Hagaman and her husband Tony have three kids, ages 18 to 30 and one precious baby grandchild. Jody’s story of how her son asked to be homeschooled has inspired
tens of thousands of families around the nation. A true homeschooling success story, that son is now an attorney in New Hampshire and is the New England Regional Director of The Concord Coalition, a bipartisan
organization dedicated to advocating responsible fiscal policy.

As a community leader, Jody has served on the board of directors of many local non-profit organizations. Her work experience as a corrections officer on a crisis intervention team inspired her to make a difference in the lives of the next generation.

She and Jenni co-host a weekly radio show, write a syndicated weekly column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about living on purpose with excellence and raising kids with the end result in mind.

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